Video of K-9 handler slamming dog into vehicle prompts investigation


SALISBURY, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — An investigation is underway after video emerged showing a North Carolina K-9 handler lifting a dog by a leash and slamming the animal into the side of a police vehicle, officials said.

The video, obtained by NewsNation affiliate WJZY, shows the dog exiting a police SUV before a Salisbury officer yells “stay.” The officer then clips the dog’s leash onto its collar and swings the animal over his shoulder as he walks toward the SUV. Other people off camera are heard saying there are no witnesses.

The video then shows him slamming the dog against the SUV before shoving the dog into the car. The officer yells “stay” and then appears to hit the dog.

The video ends with someone asking if a camera is on and another person replying, “no, my power is off.”

Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told news outlets he couldn’t comment in detail on what happened. Stokes said the dog, Zuul, wasn’t hurt or stunned and has since been separated from the officer. Zuul was on hand with Stokes for a Tuesday news conference about the investigation.

Stokes said the officer’s actions may have been part of training tactics but didn’t comment on whether those tactics were appropriate. He added that K-9s are trained to be used against criminal suspects and “when a canine is non-compliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog.”

An outside agency will be investigating and the department is reviewing its K-9 policy and guidelines.

The officer’s name wasn’t immediately released.

Roy Taylor, who’s been a K-9 handler for more than two decades and a police chief in three different North Carolina cities, spoke to WJZY about the video.

“I think this was an example of something you should not do,” he said.

“By slinging the dog over his shoulder, carrying him back, he’s cutting off that blood supply and air for several seconds, and then by throwing him in the vehicle the way he did, he risked causing some cervical spine or cerebral spine injuries to the dog,” Taylor said.

Moving forward, Taylor said the dog is “going to have to reconsider whether he gets out of the car at all.”

Kyle Heyen, a former police officer who has trained dogs for law enforcement agencies, expressed concerns beyond Zuul.

“The actions of the handler were not appropriate,” Heyen said. “If you’re frustrated because that dog came out at that point in time and you respond with that much frustration, it just makes you wonder what that officer is going to do in a real-life situation.”

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WJZY contributed to this report.

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